Best For You. Best For Baby.
The CDC estimates that birth defects occur in about 1 in every 33 infants born in the United States each year. While not all birth defects can be prevented, a woman can take steps to reduce her own risk of having a baby born with a birth defect. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and presents as an opportunity for WIC staff to raise awareness of this topic.
Among the ways that WIC plays a role in helping to spread the word is by educating women and their families about the dangers of substance use and the importance of committing to healthy choices as a key strategy for preventing birth defects.
Just as important, WIC staff provide nutrition education in addition to prescribing tailored food packages that can help moms meet their recommended daily intake of folic acid, a nutrient important in helping to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. (Be sure to check out WIC Meal of the Month: Focus on Folate for recipes to help your moms make the most of their WIC foods!)
Educational and Other Resources for Sharing
To learn more, and help educate your participants, about this topic, you can visit CDC's birth defects homepage (also available in Spanish) that includes a What's New section and a number of free, downloadable resources, including:
- A healthy behaviors to help prevent birth defects checklist and information page with handouts and infographics
- Videos and podcasts that cover topics such as the maternal risk factors for having a baby with a heart defect, tips for preventing infections during pregnancy, and more
- A Fact Sheets collection page with links to handouts, a quiz, infographics and multi-media buttons
- Information about specific birth defects and how they are diagnosed
Explore the WIC Works Resource System to find additional resources related to folic acid and developmental disabilities, as well as Zika and COVID-19, two infectious diseases with the potential to impact pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In conjunction with CDC, AAP, state health departments, and other entities, the National Birth Defects Prevention Network created a toolkit for a number of communication platforms that offers:
- videos (including one in Spanish)
- themed resources related to each of the 5 Tips for Preventing Birth Defects
- a fact sheet for dads
- graphics and social media ideas (including sample posts)
- a proclamation that can be tailored to your state
- a sample news release
- resources to help evaluate your social media reach
- materials adapted for local public health agencies
Family Support and Advocacy
- At HealthyChildren.Org, parents can find general information related to child health as well as more specific guidance on How Chronic Illness or Disability Affects a Family.
- Families can complete the online My Family Health Portrait family history tool provided on the Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative and share with their physician. Paper copies of the tool, also in Spanish, can be found by following the Learn More About My Family Health Portrait link.
HHS, CDC, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities